Hot on the comeback trail this spring, Matt Harvey was every bit the pitcher we remembered from the 2013 season in April and May of 2015. Recently though, he has tailed off a little bit and come under fire from DFS players. Looking at his monthly breakdowns on Fantasy Labs shows that Harvey’s Plus/Minus has fallen every month since the season began:
As a starting pitcher coming back from a major arm injury, it would be reasonable to assume that Harvey is experiencing fatigue halfway through the season. I took a look at some of his velocity and pitch movement data using Pitch F/X tools on FanGraphs and Baseball Savant to see if there has been a marked change in his stuff over the course of the season. Here’s the FanGraphs data from Harvey’s first start of the season (one of his best) against the Nationals:
And here’s the data from a recent July start, also against the Nationals:
If anything, his overall velocity has picked up just a hair. Comparing his velocity to previous seasons, his average fastball velocity is down 0.4 MPH, but higher than it was in 2012. If his velocity is not the problem, what is? Could it be as simple as home/away splits?
Harvey’s first game of the season was a road game against the Nationals, where he almost doubled his projected points. There was a lot going on in that game: first start of the season, first game since Tommy John, etc. From there, Harvey has exceeded value just three times on the road this year in nine tries. He’s been held below 12 DraftKings points in four of those contests. If you exclude the month of April, the split becomes massive:
Here are Harvey’s last two starts at home. Note the caliber of offenses faced, by the way. For the sake of balancing the argument, Harvey’s June/July opponents on the road have been the Braves (no Freeman), the Dodgers, and the Nationals (no Rendon, Werth, Span).
Harvey has had a tendency to play better at home throughout his career. His first couple starts this year have his season-long split relatively even at the moment, but there’s no doubt which direction it’s been heading. Here were his splits in his first two seasons, for reference:
|Year||Home ERA||Away ERA||Home wOBA||Away wOBA||Home K%||Away K%|
The schedule has thrown more road games Harvey’s way lately, and while he hasn’t faced the most intimidating of opponents, both the Dodgers and Braves have both caused opposing pitchers to lose value on the season when filtering just June/July (Nats are a poor matchup on the season, but have become a strong matchup over June/July).
Whenever Harvey is starting, one of the first things we have to decide as DSFers is whether to pay or fade. Paying for him recently has been no fun, but my money is that he’s just being splitty and isn’t broken. If I’m wrong, I won’t be having a very happy Harvey Day.